Cerebral palsy and sensory impairments in children

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a general term covering a group of disorders that affect a child’s movement and coordination, and are likely to include cognitive and sensory impairments. It is estimated that around one in every 400 children in the UK is affected by CP and that 1,800 babies are diagnosed each year.

The signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy vary greatly from child to child and depend on the type of CP they have. Some children may be mildly affected while others will experience more severe effects.

View a guide to cerebral palsy on the National Children's Bureau website providing general information, guidance and sign-posting for parents and carers of children and young people diagnosed with cerebral palsy, or who are in the process of getting a diagnosis.

Some children have hearing or vision impairments, or both, as a result of their cerebral palsy.


Hypotonia - decreased muscle tone, often resulting in loose, floppy limbs. Hypotonia is associated with non-spastic cerebral palsy
Dyskinetic - uncontrolled, involuntary, sustained or intermittent muscle contractions as the tone of the muscle can change from floppy and loose to tight with slow, rhythmic twisting movements
Hemiplegia – or unilateral cerebral palsy, only affects one side of the body.

Sense's Children's Specialist Services are a team of specialist advisory teachers, children’s therapists, and Children and Family Support Workers. The team provides advice and information to multi-sensory-impaired children and young people, to their families or carers, and to the professionals who work with them. They also provide support in the home, at school or at their centres of excellence.

Related links

Hearing loss and cerebral palsy

Visual impairment and cerebral palsy

Multi-sensory impairment and cerebral palsy

The Information Standard 'Certified member' logoThis page is not a substitute for a consultation with a health professional and should not to be used as a means of diagnosing a condition.

References for this article are available by emailing info@sense.org.uk

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Reviewed: May 2015
Review due: May 2017

First published: Wednesday 30 May 2012
Updated: Friday 29 January 2016